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Mrs Harris Goes to Moscow

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That will while away an hour or so pleasantly enough, taking you to the attitudes and assumptions of England in the 1970s, and to a view of Moscow and the Soviet Union through that particular lens. In Mrs Harris MP, the honest as-ever old char impresses her employer with her no-nonsense political views to such an extent that he - an MP, no less - encourages her to become a voice for the people of Battersea and stand for election herself. So redolent is Mrs Harris Goes To Moscow of the 1970s that Russia in Fiction did a double-take when discovering that it had been re-issued by Bloomsbury in 2012.

My only real issue with the book is the set-up for the novel as why would they be giving a trip to Russia rather than another country in Europe. Overall, the story is still funny, but just doesn't have the same sparkle as the previous installments. When, much to her surprise, she wins a trip for two beyond the Iron Curtain, she has no idea of the adventure that lies ahead of her. If you liked the others, you’ll certainly like this – if you can face reading about Russian collusion in the current environment (it did feel oddly topical).And the actual raging toward the Russians and Moscow in this book is so disrespectful I was shocked. His first major book was Farewell to Sport, which as the title indicates, was his farewell to sports writing. Being the sort of woman she is, and featuring in the sort of novels she does, Mrs Harris happens (or may be Mrs ’Arris ’appens) to win a pair of tickets for a package tour to Moscow.

Meanwhile, a series of bureaucratic misunderstandings in the vast Soviet machine lead to Mrs Harris and Violet coming to the attention of the KGB. My daughter and I loved the film and I usually enjoy the original book version of the story even more. The world of local politics, however, soon proves a test for a lady as straight-laced as Mrs Harris; political skulduggery, the glare of the media and the apparent betrayal of a trusted friend all becoming issues she just hadn't bargained on. Their US titles —in full Mary Poppins-esque, Cock-er-ney pronunciation style— chose to drop the ‘H’, as in Mrs ’Arris Goes To Moscow; and, to make things a little clearer Stateside, replaced Mrs Harris, MP with Mrs ’Arris Goes to Parliament.

You can change your choices at any time by visiting Cookie preferences, as described in the Cookie notice. Mrs Harris Goes To Moscow will not detain any reader for long, and its one-sitting length provides a harmless and pleasant diversion back to the brown and orange decade that was the 1970s. She's not dislikeable, but she is there to represent the author's idea of a type, not to be a fully fleshed out individual.

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